Stoutonia originally found its beginning as a school project. Formed in 1915, Stoutonia, formerly known as Weekly News, served as a work experience for advanced printing classes at the Stout Institute, which would one day come to be known as University of Wisconsin–Stout.
The newspaper was entirely student run with the advisement of Mr. Chas E. Eslinger, a teacher of printing and primary handwork. A collaborative effort between departments, the editorial staff was made up of nominated seniors from each department to be selected by Eslinger.
Besides providing a hands-on learning opportunity to its students, Stout’s paper was created to fill the rising need on campus for a news source. The paper was used to advertise school events and to update the student body of goings-on.
H. W. Gossett, an original staff member of Stoutonia, said in Vol.1 Issue 1, “We plan to arrange the editions so that they may be a remembrance of student days at the Stout Institute.”
Since its days as a one cent paper “that would make the best kind of letter” to be sent home, the editorial has gone on to be one of the longest running organizations in Stout’s history. Today, the paper documents the school’s history and gives the campus a news source that is comprised of student voices.
Heather Stecklein, archivist for UW-Stout’s archives, said it is hard to meter the overall impact Stoutonia had on campus when it was first formed. “What we do know is that it was the equivalent of social media for students today. Students could reference the paper for upcoming events and activities or find out who’s dating who. Stoutonia provided great content for campus initiative,” said Stecklein. “During World War I, the newspaper provided patterns for knitting so students could participate in Red Cross drives.”
Stecklein said that today, Stoutonia has become a place of reference for anyone hoping to find more on the history of UW-Stout.
“Researchers use Stoutonia to discover what campus was like through its slice of life content. Stoutonia has evolved with the digital revolution and offers a glimpse at how students lived at Stout at one time, such as dorm life or social activities,” said Stecklein.
On March 17, Stoutonia celebrated its 103 birthday. Archived editions of the Stoutonia can be found at both the University Archives and Stoutonia.com.